Brewers Association Releases 2020 Beer Style Guidelines

Link to article default ba logo
Share Post

Boulder, Colo.March 17, 2020 — The Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers—has released its 2020 Beer Style Guidelines. Updated annually, the association’s guidelines reflect, as much as possible, historical significance, authenticity, or a high profile in the current commercial beer market, and are utilized by brewers and beer competition organizers, including the Great American Beer Festival® and World Beer Cup®.

The Brewers Association has provided beer style descriptions as a reference for brewers and beer competition organizers since 1979. The process weighs feedback from the commercial brewing industry, judges, beer analyses, and consultations with beer industry experts and knowledgeable beer enthusiasts as resources for information.

In addition to the hundreds of minor edits made across several beer styles, the 2020 guidelines include the following style additions and significant style revisions:

Style Additions

  • Contemporary American-Style Lager
  • Contemporary American-Style Light Lager

Significant Style Revisions

  • The former Emerging India Pale Ale: renamed as Experimental India Pale Ale and moved to the Hybrid/Mixed Lagers or Ales group
  • American-Style India Pale Ale and Imperial India Pale Ale, Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale and Imperial India Pale Ale, and American-Style Black Ale: revised to affirm distinctions between these styles and Experimental India Pale Ale
  • Contemporary Belgian-Style Spontaneous Fermented Ale: style name amended to remove reference to “Gueuze Lambic”
  • Session Beer: edited to strengthen the separation between beers made to lower alcohol levels relative to classic versions and beers that fall within classic versions, defined as containing alcohol levels under 5.0%
  • Rye Beer: altered to reflect broader range of mouthfeel and sensory attributes that arise from use of many different varieties of rye malt
  • American-Style Session Indian Pale Ale: moved to Hybrid/Mixed Lagers or Ales group

“The annual update keeps the guidelines accurate and relevant to today’s dynamic beer market,” said Chris Swersey, competition manager, Brewers Association. “For example, the Juicy Hazy categories have been updated after two years to reflect trends in those popular categories. We’re very thankful to have a working group of brewers who engaged with us to ensure these categories are well-written.”

The 2020 Beer Style Guidelines are available for download at

Contact: Jenelle Scott, on behalf of the Brewers Association, 970-963-4873 x224


ba logo

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 5,600-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The Brewers Association organizes events, including the World Beer Cup®Great American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America®National Homebrew Competition, and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® and Zymurgy® magazines, and Brewers Publications® is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at® and about homebrewing via the American Homebrewers Association®. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 13672 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.